We all know I love a list. List writing bizarrely always cheers me up and makes me feel on top of things. Even writing a list of cleaning that needs doing makes me feel like I’ve been productive. Admittedly I normally spend more time writing the list than actually doing anything on it but it still makes me feel like I’ve accomplished something. I rarely complete a list, there is no fun in that. Once a couple of things are ticked off then it just makes the list look messy so I like to rewrite it, I’m not strange honestly.
Of course my favourite type of list is a book related one and so I was very excited to see that the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year 2022 Longlist has been announce. I was even more excited to see that it includes some of the best books I’ve read this year.
Unfortunately voting for the longlist closes on the 26th May so I’m not going to get chance to read the whole list in advance, but I certainly think I’ll be able to have a good go at the shortlist when it’s announced.
Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year 2022 Longlist Girl A by Abigail Dean Tall Bones by Anna Bailey The Heron’s Cry by Ann Cleeves Blood Ties by Brian McGilloway The Cut by Chris Brookmyre The Less Dead by Denise Mina The Night Hawks by Elly Griffiths Watch Her Fall by Erin Kelly I Know What I Saw by Imran Mahmood True Crime Story by Joseph Knox Daughters of Night by Laura Shepherd Robinson Rabbit Hole by Mark Billingham Slough House by Mick Herron Dead Ground by M. W. Craven The Devil and the Dark Water by Stuart Turton Midnight at Malabar House by Vaseem Khan The Last Thing to Burn by Will Dean The Trawlerman by William Shaw
I was sent a copy of this from Faber and Faber Ltd and despite not being my usual style of crime I thought it sounded intriguing.
Teenage Ava is sent to live with her grandmother after the death of her mother. Not only does Ava have to leave her home and everything she knows, she is going to live with a woman she has barely met. Grandmother Lane is an artist who is ill equipped to look after herself let alone a teenage girl. Lane already relies heavily on her assistant Oliver who seems to be the perfect help for them both but tensions soon start to simmer to the surface and Ava become suspicios that maybe Oliver isn’t the person he pretends to be.
This was an utterly compelling story that I really enjoyed. It was part character study and part crime story that weaved its way between past and present as we gradually uncover the story that was behind the estrangement between Lane and her daughter as well as learn more about Lane’s relationship with her partner.
I found all of the characters fascinating in their own way. Ava was a quiet unassuming child who had been put in a situation where she had to grow up quickly. Lane elicted both sympathy and frustration from me. Clearly she was struggling with her own health but won’t admit she’s suffering. Instead she chooses to self medicate and practically ignore her granddaughter and her grief. Oliver is a hard character to pin down, on the one hand it seems that he really cares for Lane, but equally there is a side of him that seems difficult to trust.
The novel is set in New Orleans and I loved the way the setting rumbled in the background giving a sense of history and providing a bit of colour in the otherwise sightly grey world of the book. The writing was impeccable and I felt it flowed seamlessly. The book flitted between present day and the late 90’s where we gradually uncovered more about Lane’s background and what led to the falling out with her daughter.
I very much enjoyed this story and the end was something I didnt see coming. I would highly recommend this intriguing and emotional novel.
I have been a fan of Vanda Symon since I saw her a few years ago at the Harrogate Crime Festival and have very much enjoyed her Sam Shepherd series so was looking forward to reading her latest.
Faceless is a stand alone novel set in New Zealand, that was an absolute cracker. It tells the story of three very different characters who’s lives collide with devastating consequences. Billy is a homeless artist who has to make money to survive anyway she can. Bradley is an office worker with a dark side that even he didn’t realise existed until a fateful night. Max has become Billy’s friend and despite living an unseen life now he’s having to come out of the shadows and face his demons to save a life.
Faceless was a story that I’ll be honest I was not expecting. I agreed to the tour because of the author and started reading without checking the blurb so it was certainly something unexpected, and all the better for it. What starts as a story of three separate people all in their own way completely ‘faceless’ to society, soon becomes a terrifying tale of kidnap, violence, mental health crisis and more.
The story is told mainly from the perspective of the three main characters with the chapters flitting backwards and forwards. Gradually the back story of the characters is revealed and the reasons they are in the situations they are becomes apparent. This was very much a character led story yet the plot was impeccable. The story was interesting and the writing was flawless. The face that it was told from the different viewpoints meant that you almost felt that you were learning about the characters at the same time as they were learning about themselves and what they were capable of.
This is a really difficult story to review because it was harrowing but it was absolutely compelling and a fantastic change from her usual police procedural. I would highly recommend this as one of the best books I’ve read for a while.
When I was asked to join the blog tour for the debut by Jane Bailey I wasn’t really sure what to expect, but it sounded like a good little mystery so I agreed. I’m very glad I did, it was a great mystery but it was also so much more.
Sorry Isn’t Good Enough is told from the perspective of Stephanie. As a 9 year old she lives with overly strict parents. Stephanie is a bit of an outcast unable to live up to her parents demanding standards. Her only friend is Dawn, a manipulative little girl who is jealous of anyone else that Stephanie might talk to. As an adult she is haunted both by events in her childhood and by tragedy in her family. The dual timelines go backwards and forwards before merging in the final pages.
This was a stunning read. Part mystery, part family study, part coming of age tale, I found it utterly compelling.
This was a novel that at times made me laugh, times made me cringe and at times was heart-breaking. The relationship between Stephanie and her mother was terribly sad, yet throughout you get the sense that it is not all it seems. The fact that it is all told from the viewpoint of one person gives it almost a voyeur feeling to the reading. You can sense how Stephanie is feeling but also have an external perspective on events that makes it such an absorbing read.
I really enjoyed the style of writing, I tend to read quite quickly and can be guilty of skim reading books (apologies to all authors out there) but this was just not possible with this book. So much of the action and reaction was that subtle it would easily be missed. The story jumps about all over the place and changes direction here there and everywhere yet personally I found it easy to follow. I was lucky enough to be able to read this over a couple of evenings away on my own as it really was impossible to put down.
To say I enjoyed it would be an understatement, however it would also seem to be the wrong word. It was desperately sad in places, but also had a sense of lightness.
I would thoroughly recommend this novel if you are after something a bit different from the norm that is full of emotion.